In the church world, we often hear the statement ‘worship is more than the words we sing.’ In fact, if we’re not careful it can be a phrase that loses its edge and falls helplessly into the ranks of mundane catch-phrases and quotes we’ve heard a few times too many. A phrase etched into our minds but forgotten by our hearts. This post serves as a reminder that worship is in fact, still more than the words we sing. It is, and always will be reflected in all that we do.
One passage you hear a lot as a worshipper is Romans 12:1-2. However, I’d never fully processed the power of the message version of the passage (Emphasis added):
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Notice that the passage doesn’t say “place that 30 minute corporate worship time on a Sunday before God as an offering.” The NIV version of the passage tells us that placing all these things before God – our sleeping, eating, working and even walking is our spiritual act of worship to God.
Dr. Randy Rowland builds on this:
“We find it quite easy to reduce worship to a privatised act, a personally meaningful experience shared by like-minded friends at a Christian gathering,’ Rowland asserts. “But worship demands an investment of the whole person and the whole life. We should expect worship to be a sacrifice, where we die to some of our wants and needs. Worship does not contract us into our comfort zones. Worship expands us as we magnify God.”
Those words, so eloquently put, remind us that this is one of our biggest challenges as worshippers. It’s where we have to swim against the tide and be counter-cultural. It’s a big ask, but it’s one that’s worthy of our Creator and Saviour.
I was thinking about ways to help me to do this. You’d think that simply worshipping my God would be enough but my weak, shallow, human self needs something to help me remember to always live with integrity, despite me. My regular readers will know that I am somewhat of a fan of Jonny Wilkinson. To put it bluntly, he’s my hero. He isn’t a Christian, but I found something he wrote in his latest book quite interesting:
“This is the way my mind works. I like to imagine myself, my life, as being under permanent surveillance from a video camera. The camera is switched on, following me 24/7. It never stops.
That’s not because I like being in front of the cameras; quite the opposite. It’s because I want to think that I could play back the tape after any day or week, or at the end of my life, and be able to sign off on it, 100 per cent happy with what I see, totally content that it shows a good representation of who I am as a person and as a rugby player.
It is about being strong in professional terms and having values that never slip. That’s why, when it’s raining and windy, or things aren’t going too well with my kicking, I can never say screw this, I’m going in. I believe everything I do has to make a difference. So I want to do things better than everyone else, not just on the field on a Saturday afternoon, but every day of the week, and off the field, too.
Like many of my ideas, the camera comes from Blackie (one of Wilkinson’s coaches). He says it’s part of kaizen, a Japanese philosophy that he follows, about daily improvement. The camera means you cannot switch off. It’s not as though getting better is something you do at work and then stop when you get home. Getting better is something you live all the time.”
Not only is this a great practice for doing the best you can in your chosen discipline or in general life, but I think it’s a great tool for us as worshippers. After all, the Holy Spirit is with us always, so why do we act as if He isn’t? If we were to play a tape back of our behaviour at the end of our lives, could we watch it comfortably before God? I like what Jonny says about having ‘values that never slip’. That’s unrealistic to expect in our walks with God as we all constantly fall short of the way that He intends us to live. But we can have values that we hold over everything else, values that guide our lives both in and out of view.
My prayer is that I can live a life that glorifies God in everything I do…at all times. It won’t be easy and I’ll fail more times than I’d like to admit, but I’ll try nonetheless. If I have to pretend I’m being filmed by a cameraman at all times in order to do it, so be it!